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Identifying a 'goth'

Writer: Bob Larson |

Goths are not as easy to identify as some journalists covered the Littleton shootings assumed. They span many cultures, from America to Europe, and many ages from teenagers to thirty-something's. They have in common dark, flowing, flimsy clothing, heavy makeup, affected pale skin, and depressing music. Their flamboyant appearance belies what is basically an introverted culture. Though accusations of violence accompany the latest interest in Goths, the fact is most Goths are almost absurdly apathetic.

The Goth designation is rooted in period literature from the last two centuries. Such writings, which often contain medieval flavor, feature allusions to dark mysteries and the supernatural. But to understand the gospel of the Goths, one must look deeper at the send of disenfranchisement that propels some of the brightest and best of our youth to opt out of mainstream society and adopt the accouterment's of darkness and depression.

Most Goths may look weird, but they are usually harmless, at least as far as violence is concerned. Goths think a lot about death and the beauty of the macabre, but their dark fantasies don't normally include racism, Nazism, and murder.

Music holds the Goth culture together. Their style grew out of the post-punk science in Britain in the 1970s and the "death rock" of the early 1980s. The words are incantations, and the music is not necessarily loud like heavy metal but is incessant, almost hypnotic, electronic percussion.

Why do kids go Goth? For some it is the music. For most it's the sense of community, a feeling of belonging with other outcasts who are equally misfitted for mainstream society. Goth culture also gives a sense of power to kids who feel alienated. By differentiating themselves from "normal" hippies' of the 1960s. Consequently, Goths often attract the sexually confused, such as homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals.

Goths also contain a significant number of those interested in vampirism and witchcraft. Since Satanists dress similarly, the link seems apparent. Actually, Goths are more into paganism, white Wicca, and earth magic and black magic.

On the positive side, Goths are often bright and intellectually inclined youth who are attracted by the Goth acceptance of anyone who doesn't fit in anywhere else. They are more inclined toward poetry and art, rather than violent computer games and celebrating Hitler's birthday. The most harm they portend is toward themselves.

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